Yalla Eat! expands, connects community, culture, cuisine

YallaEat_mapNow running spring through fall, guided tours feature history, tradition, hospitality

DEARBORN – The Arab American National Museum’s Yalla Eat! program will expand its season as it returns for guided walking tours on Warren and Michigan avenues.

Yalla Eat! is an interactive opportunity for participants to learn the story of Arab Americans in metropolitan Detroit, including the history of Arab merchants on Dearborn’s commercial strips­­.

On the tours, guests can meet owners of small and large businesses eager to share the story of their family-run businesses and savor the sights, sounds and scents at bakeries, nuts and coffee houses and fresh produce markets.

Samples also will be offered along with the stories of individuals, their families and their history.

Nourhan Mattar, the Yalla Eat! tour coordinator, hopes guests take home a newfound understanding and appreciation of the diverse characteristics that make up Arab American culture.

“The Yalla Eat! tours are not only about food, they revolve around food as it relates to identity, history and culture,” Mattar said. “These tours are designed to provide an introduction to the intricate and nuanced Arab American culture through guided culinary exploration.

“Guests will enjoy authentic flavors and spontaneous interactions with individuals from the community while exploring the many ways this community has been an integral part of American culture and identity for generations.”

2017 tour information

This season’s tour schedule has expanded from previous years. Tours will be offered to the public on Saturdays in April, May and July through October. Tours will alternate between Michigan and Warren avenues.

Tours will not be held in June due to the holy month of Ramadan. Many businesses will temporarily change their hours of operation to best serve the community during this month of fasting.

Warren Avenue tours begin and end at Super Greenland Market, 12715 W. Warren, in the heart of the Arab American shopping district in east Dearborn. This tour highlights the historic presence of Arab Americans in Dearborn from the perspectives of owners of some of the most distinguished businesses in the community.

Guests can explore the intricate and rich culture of Dearborn through a culinary experience hosting the most authentic and uniquely crafted flavors and recipes passed down for generations.

Michigan Avenue tours begin and end at the Arab American National Museum, 13624 Michigan Ave., and offer a more diverse flavor profile of the Arab American community in Dearborn.  Guests will have the opportunity to explore a wider variety of nationalities through their foods.

Michigan Avenue in east Dearborn is the newest Arab American commercial district. There are more than a dozen Arab American food establishments along the Michigan Avenue corridor, including the Dearborn Fresh grocery store located behind AANM.

In addition, AANM has published an updated version of its Yalla Eat! Culinary Map of Dearborn for self-guided exploration. It is available free of charge at the museum admission desk during hours of operation: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. To view the map online or view a video of the Warren Avenue tour, go to www.arabamericanmuseum.org/yallaeat.

Tickets and information

Tickets for Yalla Eat! tours are available in advance at www.arabamericanmuseum.org/yallaeat; prices are $35 for museum members and $45 for non-members. All participants receive a Yalla Eat! shopping tote, a Yalla Eat! culinary map of Dearborn (for self-guided exploration) and one complimentary admission to the AANM.

Each tour is led by a museum docent and is limited to 12 people to allow for an intimate and interactive experience. Tours run approximately 2.5 hours; comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Many stops offer free food samples, and shopping is encouraged.

Coming soon: Yalla Eat! custom tours

Custom tours are individual, and group tours are available by reservation only and are designed to offer a more flexible and intimate tour experience. Custom tour rates differ from those of standard tours due to the wider date and time options available.

For more information, contact Nourhan Mattar at NMattar@accesscommunity.org.